The government has reportedly dispatched auditors to investigate alleged abuse of nearly $4 million siphoned from the war veterans’ pension and education fund.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
This came amid reports that war veterans have not been receiving their monthly payouts and education allowances for some time due to lack of funds, resulting in some of their children dropping out of school or colleges.
Although officials in Treasury and War Veterans’ ministry refused to comment over the matter yesterday, sources privy to the investigations told NewsDay that the money mysteriously “vanished” before the reconstituted war veterans’ department.
“The department received the money early this year to pay for education and pension allowances to war veterans, but the money cannot be traced now. Not even a cent of it,” a source who declined to be named said.
“The issue only came to light when senior civil servants from the ministry responsible for war veterans headed by Christopher Mutsvangwa approached Treasury cap in hand for funds to pay for war veterans children’s examination fees.
“They were quizzed on how they had used the $4 million and this group knew nothing about the issue. So those who were in charge of the department before the ministry was created are now being called to account.”
Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi requested questions in writing.
“Could you please email me your questions so that those who were in charge of the department answer for themselves,” Mugwisi said.
Mutsvangwa, who is also Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairperson, confirmed that his ministry had indeed sought Treasury help, but denied sanctioning an “audit yet”.
“I have not yet sanctioned an audit, but it is true that we recently approached Treasury for funding. We were given about $1 million, but we still need more because there are a lot of things that still need to be set up, but of great concern to us is the welfare of war veterans and we think Treasury can do more to support us,” he said.
Mutsvangwa could neither deny nor confirm whether his officials were quizzed by Treasury over the abuse of the funds, but the ministry’s secretary, Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, insisted that those who abused the funds should be made accountable.
“If people committed any crimes, the law will catch up with them and if any audit is to be sanctioned in future, then it will be in order, but it will not be a witch-hunt. People should act with probity when handling public funds and we should be seen to account for public funds when we deal with them,” Tapfumaneyi said.
“We have a mandate to deliver on the welfare of war veterans those things that have not been done for the past 35 years and will not be distracted by rumours.
“As a ministry we have only been in existence for two months and have not been given the chance to implement what we think are programmes that will solve the problems that have been created over time.”